Saturday, April 5, 2008

Zimbabwe, Mugabe & the Next Deadly Temper Tantrum

African dictators are no different than Pakistani, Cuban, European, Iraqi or an American one. Especially after contested elections or coups where High Courts install and affirm their chosen leader. Robert Mugabe, Zimbabwe's Roman Catholic president, is using the Court to keep the opposition from seeking transparency in last week's election results. There are threats from Zimbabwe to purge the election commission. George W. Bush used the Court to attempt to confer legitimacy on his presidency. In either case, the will of the People of many nations goes unheeded, leading to a collapse of the ability to govern with moral authority, but always expressing the power of because I say so to get something done.

The 84 year old leader of the Zanu-PF party, Robert Mugabe, has no ability to now cloak himself in legitimacy either, after an election threatening to subsume Zimbabwe into more violence. Two foreign journalists and an American activist are under arrest. The Movement for Democratic Change or MDC opposition demands an election runoff against the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front with UN supervision.

During Robert Mugabe's rule/reign he has touched little that can be called successful with the lone exception of enriching his cronies, families and increasing his hold on the levers of power by crushing minority groups - tens of thousands of Ndebele civilians perished under orders from Mugabe's North-Korean trained 5th Brigade and the infamous persecution of homosexuals, incluing the former President Banana - then, raiding the treasury to start a second war in the Congo. All to familiar now, to Americans too.

Mugabe has ruled since his guerrilla army helped bring about an independent Zimbabwe in 1980, but his popularity has been battered by an economic slide that followed the often-violent seizures of white-owned commercial farms in 2000.

With inflation in Zimbabwe raging at more than 100,000 percent, authorities introduced a new bank note denominated at 50 million Zimbabwe dollars Friday, state media said. The new note is worth $1 at the widely used black market trading rate and can buy just three loaves of bread.

While official results from the March 29 presidential election still had not been released, independent observers earlier projected a runoff, saying Tsvangirai won the most votes but not the 50 percent-plus-one majority needed for an outright victory.

The election commission announced more results Friday in races for the 60 elected Senate seats, with the opposition winning 23 to the ruling party's 20. (emphasis mine)

The police/militia/Mugabe's enforcers are now out in riot gear in the quiet capital city of Harare. Africa's colonial and other Imperial powers have greedy hands of responsibility in this as well. Rhodesia's white rule maintained by the Brits are part of the underpinnings that set up the pathological corruption dynamic. The World Bank touted Mugabe's successes in the mid-1990's, but has piped down considerably in later years. America went strangely quiet on Mugabe's antics and escapades amidst his legendary human right abuses. Kenya is still dealing with the violent aftermath of their presidential elections with the ruling junta using the Court to immediately validate a dubious election result, ringing in the New Year with a Kenyan killing field.

Resource rich Africa is the prize in a race for exploitation from every corner of the globe while its suits each nation's purposes to prop up corrupt regimes and ignore rampant inflation and unbacked currencies. If anyone is preparing a legal brief for a host of charges in the Hague, those that were silent and watched should be held complicit or as accessories responsible in Mugabe's reign of terror too. The gorgeous photo is from Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe.

The Last King Of Scotland earned a well deserved Oscar for Forest Whitaker's portrayal of Uganda's unstable Idi Amin. The harsh reality of Idi Amin and his capricious barbaric practices were not internalized, meaning the world is doomed to repeat the same lesson with an elderly malevolent dictator like Robert Mugabe that started out as a freedom fighter with a promise of leading the insurrection against forced Imperial White rule. Martin Meridith describes the beginning and the sordid final chapters of the Mugabe presidential era in Robert Mugabe: Power, Plunder and the Struggle for Zimbabwe's Future. Recent events will make an interesting postscript for this book.

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